As my kids were growing up, I went through various cycles of nutrition nagging ("Drink your milk!") and nutrition negotiating ("I'll trade you one cookie for two green beans." ) To those of you on the front line today, fighting the good fight in the nutrition wars and the battle of the bulge, I offer these fun, educational websites.
"5 A Day is the magic rule -- more is OK, less is uncool!" This site is a celebration of the important health benefits of eating fruits and vegetables. The graphics are so bright and compelling, it's impossible not to begin craving a fruit or veggie snack. Although the site is soon to be reorganized, Dole promises to keep the best of the old site intact. Kids have their own portal, as do parents (with an excellent section on how to get kids to eat more fruits and vegetables) and teachers (with lots of printable classroom materials.) Highlights of the kids section are the games, recipes, and the Fruit and Vegetable Encyclopedia.
What an eye-opener! Enter your favorite food from your favorite fast food restaurant, and receive its nutritional analysis: calories, fat, cholesterol, sodium, protein, carbohydrates, fiber, and sugar. You can choose from fifteen restaurants such as Dairy Queen, Jack in the Box, McDonald's, Pizza Hut, Burger King or KFC. Some of what I learned was shocking. For example, a Dairy Queen Chicken Strip Basket contains 1000 calories, 450 of them from fat.
An educational program of the International Food Information Council (IFIC) Foundation, Kidnetic.com is designed for kids nine to twelve and their parents. The site is divided into four sections. Move focuses on "wet head games," you know the kind that require you to leave your computer chair and actually run around and sweat. Eat is a compendium of kid-friendly recipes. Talk gives you a chance to provide feedback, but requires free registration. Learn is a collection of short articles for grownups on topics such as how to eat healthy in fast food restaurants.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Guide Pyramid has been recently revised to reflect the latest nutritional science. In fact, there is no longer just one pyramid. There are twelve different pyramids, depending on how many calories you need and how active you are. The easiest way to understand the new dietary guidelines is to watch the animated Tour My Pyramid. Click on Kids to play the Blast Off! game, and to print a simplified food pyramid.
Nutrition Explorations, published by the National Dairy Council, combines fun with simple nutrition instruction. Under Activities, my picks are the food group match games Quintricious and Tasty Tunes, and Feed the Monster, an arcade game with an embedded nutrition quiz. Another gem is the printable shopping list with headings for each of the five food groups: milk, meat, vegetable, fruit and grain.